There are many reasons to own a great rain jacket, not just the rain. With this on mind, I set out get a rain jacket that meets three criteria:
- It needs to be light.
- It needs to be non-breathable.
- It needs to be reasonably priced.
Enter Luke’s Ultralight.
Luke makes a range of rain jackets, from E-vent to Silpoly. It’s the Silpoly that caught my attention. It’s light, cheap and non-breathable. Just what I wanted. Let me do some explaining here, as I want a jacket for more than just rain. This will also be a vapor barrier. The vapor barrier will be part of my sleep system, and my insulation system in general. So really I view this more as the top layer to my insulation system, with added rain blocking benefits.
For a vapor barrier to work the material must, of course, be non-breathable, so I opted for the Silpoly Ultralight Rain Shell with pit zips. I must say the stitching here is top-notch, the jacket is made very well.
I bought this jacket to work with my umbrella as well. On my Nine Line hike, I had a very wet and just misty day. That’s me in the last picture, the little flash of silver is my umbrella. It was raining steadily, although not super hard. I was wearing my Marmot wind jacket, the DWR couldn’t hang and it just wet out from the elbows down, freezing my arms. The rest of me was warm as wind jackets are excellent insulators. So my immediate thought was waterproof sleeves, but the more I thought about that the more needlessly complicated it seemed.
When looking for a solution I emailed Luke to talk about his SilPoly Rain Jacket, and it became evident that this was a great solution.
First off this is, for me, the pinnacle of what I wanted. It’s simple, inexpensive, light, and well made. Some Rain jackets can cost nearly $500 and weigh half a pound!!! That’s crazy to me and one of the main reasons I never bought one. Also, this jacket has a bunch of little details that make it evident that Luke really put some thought into the design.
The hood has an adjuster at the base of the neck, to pull the brim of the hood down and forward on the head, and it really can tighten up the top of the hood so the wind doesn’t lift it up and then blow it back. Second is the one hand waist adjuster. It’s anchored at one side to allow you to cinch up the bottom so the wind doesn’t get up your back or front. The hood is also stiffened with a 4” piece of soft, flexible foam, and it does a good job of forming a small brim, like a short baseball cap. It zips all the way up on the front, with a waterproof #3 YKK zipper, that hasn’t bound up on me yet after 3 months of use.
It packs up about the size of my coffee cup, in fact, I think I can fit in my coffee cup. It’s tiny. I find this to be so small that I will take it with me even on trail runs with no forecast of precipitation, just in case. It packs up about the size of my coffee cup, in fact, I think I can fit it in my coffee cup. It’s tiny.
Something that I noticed at first that threw me off is that the pit zips look like they don’t cover all of the armpit, but are really just upper arm zips.
Let me assure you that when your arm is down it is in the right place. I suspect that the placement is for ease of installation, as it is right along a seam.
The view from the back, as you can see the rain jacket is decent abrasion-resistant the black spot on my shoulder is from a fall, and the adjustment at the back of the head is pretty small and light.
All in all this is a great jacket if you understand that it is NOT breathable, and can perform triple duty as a vapor barrier, wind blocker and rain jacket. The only time I wouldn’t take this with me is if the weather was going to be hot and rainy. Then my poncho would be my rain gear of choice, as no waterproof/breathable jacket is really good at either as of yet.
- It’s SUPER light at 4.87 OZ.
- It’s a great price.
- Very well designed.
- Working with Luke is very easy.
- Works great as an insulator.
- Works great as a wind jacket.
- You need to wear long sleeves under the jacket or you get soaked in sweat. But this is expected with this fabric.
- It wouldn’t work well in the heat and wet, all the sweat would drown you. But that’s why ponchos exist.
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